Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Partner Perspectives  Connecting marketers to our tech communities.
5/2/2016
10:00 AM
Lynda Grindstaff
Lynda Grindstaff
Partner Perspectives
50%
50%

Women In Security: What Are You Missing?

For security jobs, men outnumber women by a long shot. It's time to start thinking and recruiting differently.

In an industry facing a significant shortage of experienced people, it is remarkable that only 11% of the security workforce is women, according to the Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu. This is not a job that should be thought of as predominantly or traditionally male. The image of a socially inept male wearing a hoodie and working in a windowless room late at night is best left to Hollywood. Today’s cybersecurity teams are at the forefront of corporate thinking. They are increasingly made up of highly educated and experienced professionals who work in the same environment as most other office workers, just with more screens.

However, if you look around the security operations center, it is still made up of mostly men. The women missing from your team are costing you more than just extra pairs of hands and eyes. Teams with greater gender and ethnic diversity tend to outperform more homogeneous teams, especially in innovation and financial metrics. They are more likely to foster open communication and identify previously unknown issues. The rate of innovation in cyberattacks suggests that we need every advantage we can in our defenses.

This is the part where I will play up the stereotypes a little, so let’s acknowledge that these are generalizations that have exceptions in any group. However, multiple studies support these differences between women and men: Women tend to be more empathetic, are more concerned about privacy, and react more strongly to bad things.

Empathy Helps With Relationships

Women score higher in certain areas of emotional intelligence and awareness such as interpersonal relationships and social responsibility. As a result, they tend to be more empathetic, or sensitive to the feelings of others. How does this help your security team? Empathy helps develop closer relationships among the team, with key vendors, and with customers. More empathetic individuals tend to be better listeners, more open to others’ ideas, and more understanding of the issues they face. Whether dealing with an internal or external customer, greater empathy helps build trust when things are going well, and really helps when things go wrong. Building trust with your key partners and customers can also lead to more revenue.

Privacy Concerns Help With Security Design

For a wide range of cultural and societal reasons, women are more concerned about their privacy than men. Combined with their emotional awareness and empathy, this has obvious benefits for cybersecurity. When designing or enhancing a security solution or business process, ask a woman (or several) how they would use it and whether it makes them feel secure, and pay attention to their issues and concerns. After all, half of your customers are women.

Strong Reactions Help With Incident Response

An interesting review of gender differences and emotion in Psychology Today found significant differences in the reactions of men and women to unpleasant or negative experiences. Women tended to react more strongly across the entire sampled age range, from 20 to 81. This stronger emotional reaction is especially valuable during the vital early moments of incident response. The women on your team will likely consider a breach to be more serious and encourage a more significant response than if there were no women.

Where Can You Find Security Women?

If after reading this you want some or more women on your team, where can you find them? Start by thinking about how you represent the job. Don’t position it as scary and militaristic, but instead appeal to women's empathy and talk about protecting others. Then look for women inside your organization and those with outside technology organizations such as Girls Who Code to work with.

And finally, don’t forget to deal with your work environment. You may not want to admit it, but one of the primary reasons there are few women in technology in general is not that the jobs are uninteresting, but that many leave the field due to the workplace culture, according to a recent study by the Society of Women Engineers. Changing this aspect of your company could be a real competitive advantage to attracting and retaining security personnel.

 

 

Lynda Grindstaff creates the future for Intel Security as the Senior Director of the Innovation Pipeline. In this role, Lynda leads a global team that brings the future to life for Intel Security through innovative strategies and prototypes. Her tenure with Intel spans two ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Joe Stanganelli
50%
50%
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
5/3/2016 | 8:51:25 AM
Egalitarianism overseas
It's worth pointing out that this is, for the most part, distinctly a western phenomenon.  In other nations where cyber defense and and cyber offense are extremely important to those nations' powers that be, women are just as prolific in the field as men are.  Plus, hacking and cybersecurity are a part of secondary education in nations like these (Israel is particularly proud of that fact), so there is greater exposure of the field to both genders.
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 10/23/2020
7 Tips for Choosing Security Metrics That Matter
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer,  10/19/2020
Russian Military Officers Unmasked, Indicted for High-Profile Cyberattack Campaigns
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  10/19/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-24847
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
A Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) vulnerability is identified in FruityWifi through 2.4. Due to a lack of CSRF protection in page_config_adv.php, an unauthenticated attacker can lure the victim to visit his website by social engineering or another attack vector. Due to this issue, an unauthenticat...
CVE-2020-24848
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
FruityWifi through 2.4 has an unsafe Sudo configuration [(ALL : ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL]. This allows an attacker to perform a system-level (root) local privilege escalation, allowing an attacker to gain complete persistent access to the local system.
CVE-2020-5990
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
NVIDIA GeForce Experience, all versions prior to 3.20.5.70, contains a vulnerability in the ShadowPlay component which may lead to local privilege escalation, code execution, denial of service or information disclosure.
CVE-2020-25483
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
An arbitrary command execution vulnerability exists in the fopen() function of file writes of UCMS v1.4.8, where an attacker can gain access to the server.
CVE-2020-5977
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
NVIDIA GeForce Experience, all versions prior to 3.20.5.70, contains a vulnerability in NVIDIA Web Helper NodeJS Web Server in which an uncontrolled search path is used to load a node module, which may lead to code execution, denial of service, escalation of privileges, and information disclosure.